Gardner, Tipton Signal Opposition to Syria Strike

September 5, 2013
Two U.S. Representatives from Colorado, both Republican, signaled they will vote against a congressional resolution that authorizes the use of force against Syria

U.S. Reps. Cory Gardner and Scott Tipton have signaled opposition to authorizing the use of force against Syria

WASHINGTON — Two U.S. Representatives from Colorado signaled they will vote against a congressional resolution that authorizes the use of force against Syria. The statements from the two Republican House members suggest that President Obama’s effort to get bipartisan backing for a military strike may be a tough sell on Capitol Hill.

Rep. Cory Gardner of Yuma announced on his Facebook page Wednesday that political leaders have failed to convince him that attacking Syria would be prudent.

“I am deeply skeptical of U.S. involvement in Syria. There must be a compelling and vital national interest to approve any action, a heavy burden that has not yet been met,” Gardner wrote.

Rep. Scott Tipton of Cortez said Tuesday that he too is leaning against authorizing an attack on Syria.

“My vote right now, barring new knowledge, is ‘no’ on American military action in Syria,” Tipton said at a town hall meeting in Durango. “Military action should always be the last resort and the use of military force should be in the best interest of the United States and/or our interests first and foremost. As of yet, I do not believe that the case has been sufficiently made that military action is in the best interest of our nation.”

The Durango Herald first reported Tipton’s remarks.

Gardner and Tipton’s announcements signal Colorado’s delegation to Congress could be divided when the House and Senate vote on the controversial Syria resolution.

Sen. Michael Bennet, a Democrat, told The Denver Post he favors a military strike in Syria because Syria’s alleged use of chemical agents on Aug. 21 cannot “go unanswered.”

Colorado’s other U.S. Senator, Mark Udall, has yet to reveal where he stands on the question of a military strike against Syria — although he issued a statement last week praising the Obama administration’s “denunciation of Syria’s chemical weapons use.”

President Obama is seeking congressional backing for a U.S. attack in response to reports that Syrian leader Bashar-al-Assad has used chemical weapons in battle, a violation of the Geneva Protocol of 1925.

Top Democratic and Republican congressional leaders have thrown their support behind the effort, including Republican House Speaker John Boehner, who announced his support Tuesday.  But Gardner and Tipton’s remarks suggest Obama’s arguments for military intervention have yet to sway their constituents.

GOP aides, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to talk more freely, said the response from their constituents has been not only bipartisan but also uniform.  They say their offices have received hundreds of calls in recent days — all of them from opponents of military intervention.

“It has just been overwhelming,” one Republican staff member said.

The other two Republicans in the Colorado congressional delegation, Mike Coffman of Aurora and Doug Lamborn of Colorado Springs, have also yet to announce where they will come down.

Both Coffman and Lamborn sit on the Armed Services Committee, which oversees the budget of the Pentagon, and each have a strong tie to the U.S. military. Coffman is a combat veteran, while Lamborn’s district is home to five military installations and the U.S. Air Force Academy.

Members of Congress expect to attend a classified briefing Monday in Washington about U.S. intelligence on the Middle Eastern country’s alleged use of chemical weapons, aides said.

An ABC News / Washington Post survey conducted between August 28 and September 1 revealed that six in ten Americans oppose unilateral U.S. strikes on Syria.

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